Do Men Need Anti-Aging Cream?
Let's be clear: real men moisturize!
Skincare isn't just for women, but it's something everyone should do. Exposure to the UV rays in sunlight, environmental toxins, pollution, and even heavy winds can cause skin damage. If you don't protect your skin, it will age faster than the rest of you.
Here are a few reasons to consider using anti-aging creams:
- Your job demands it. If you spend all day working outside, exposure to the sun and other environmental toxins could damage your skin. It's vital that you protect your skin if you work outdoors. But even professionals who spend most of their time indoors should protect their skin as well, especially if their face or hands are the "money-makers" (such as sales professionals).
- You have a family history of rapid aging. If your family is prone to skin problems (psoriasis, acne, sagging skin, etc.) you may have to take extra precautions to protect your skin. Genetics are already against you!
- You're getting older. Once you hit the 40-year mark, your skin is going to start showing the signs of age if you don't take care of it. Production of collagen and elastin decreases during your 30s, meaning your skin stops repairing itself as efficiently as it once did. It's vital that you take care of your skin in order to reduce the visibility of aging.
When to Start Using Anti-Aging Creams
You may think, "I'm still in my 20s or 30s, so I don't need to start using anti-aging creams yet."
Oh, so wrong!
If you haven't cracked the big 4-0, you may not yet see the first signs of aging, but that doesn't mean they're not there. The lower layers of your skin are likely suffering; you just don't see it yet.
The time to start taking care of your skin is well before the problems become visible. If you prevent skin aging during your 20s and 30s, you can minimize the damage and encourage your body to naturally protect and repair your skin. Moisturizing and caring for your skin during your younger years will help to keep it fresh and healthy well into your later years.
Remember that old chestnut: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Spending a few minutes every day caring for your skin while you're young will pay massive dividends when you get older.
The Best Anti-Aging Ingredients
In order to help you find the most effective creams, here's what you need to know about the most common anti-aging ingredients included:
Retinol – Also known as Vitamin A, retinol is one of the most commonly added ingredients in anti-aging creams. Retinol enhances the production of collagen, the protein that keeps your skin fresh and healthy. It can also smooth out skin, exfoliate to remove dead skin cells, and improve the distribution and production of pigment cells. However, it has been known to cause redness and peeling (it's a potent acid) if the concentration is too strong.
Vitamin C – Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is another potent vitamin and antioxidant that can improve skin health. Vitamin C is a nutrient required for the production of both collagen and elastin, the protein that works with collagen to enhance the elasticity of your skin. Vitamin C can also reduce the visibility of wrinkles and blemishes, combat the oxidative damage of environmental toxins, protect from radiation, and improve hydration. It's one of the most effective anti-aging ingredients to look for.
Vitamin E – Vitamin E takes a different approach to anti-aging: it protects your skin from damage by trapping in moisture and keeping toxins and radiation out. It forms an oily moisture barrier that keeps your skin hydrated and protected. It works with Vitamin C, enhancing the protection of your skin. Nearly all anti-aging skincreams include at least 1% Vitamin E.
Selenium – Selenium is one of the three antioxidants (along with Vitamin C and E) that dermatologists have found concrete scientific evidence to prove its effectiveness. It can not only decrease the damage of UV rays on the skin, but it can prevent further oxidative stress and the breakdown of skin cells caused by environmental toxins. It's not a common ingredient in anti-aging creams, but it's a good one to look for.
CoQ10 – Co-enzyme Q10, also known as ubiquinonone or CoQ10, is another ingredient that is believed to offer antioxidant protection for the skin. CoQ10 is a naturally occurring lipid, but over time the body produces less and less of it. While direct supplementation won't help to increase natural production or absorption of the lipid, its addition into skincare products can improve the function of skin cells. It may be able to prevent hyperpigmentation, treat wrinkles, and reduce sagging skin.
Coffee Berry – According to two independent studies, coffee berry extract contains a significant amount of antioxidants that can improve wrinkles and fine lines on your skin. Best of all, it can work without triggering irritations or rashes, a common problem with strong acids.
Epidermal Growth Factor – Also known as EGF, epidermal growth factor is a polypeptide amino acid chain that has been scientifically created to increase wound repair and recovery rate. It stimulates the skin cells and speeds up growth, encourages higher collagen production, and promotes the healing of wounds, blemishes, acne, and other skin problems.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids – Alpha hydroxy acids come from foods like buttermilk (which Cleopatra famously used to keep her skin healthy). It's similar to the natural acids found in citrus fruits, sugar cane, and milk. Essentially, they stop old skin cells from sticking to the outer layers of skin, encouraging a healthy cellular turnover rate. This, in turn, refreshes the skin, smooths it out, and increases production of elastin and collagen. AHAs can increase photosensitivity, and they can also help your skin retain more moisture and increase firmness.
Peptides – Peptides are small proteins that the body uses to produce collagen, the protein that's vital for healthy skin. There are many peptides that can work, including palmitoyl pentapeptide-3 and acetyl hexapeptide-3, also known as Matrixyl and Argireline. Some peptides can actually have a Botox-like effect, preventing wrinkles from forming. They can also act as growth factors to encourage the production of new skin cells.
Sunscreen – Anti-aging sunscreens are a one-two combination that will lead to MUCH healthier skin. The anti-aging part includes many of the nutrients listed above, which help to hydrate, nourish, and protect your skin. The sunscreen part contains ingredients that protect your skin from not only the burning UVB rays, but also the aging UVA rays. UVA rays damage the elastin and collagen in your skin, so they're most likely to cause skin aging. By protecting your skin from these rays, the sunscreen reduces aging.
Anti-Aging Cream Purchasing Tips
Before you go out and blow your paycheck on all the anti-aging creams in the store, there are a few things you need to know.
First up, what TYPE of cream should you buy?
Facial creams are formulated for use on your face. They tend to be non-comedogenic (won't cause pimples to form), lightweight, and plumping (to fill in the wrinkles and lines on your face). They may also contain some UV protection, as there is no protection for your face while out and about.
Body creams are intended primarily to deal with dry and cracked skin, and they tend to have heavier, petroleum or mineral oil-based ingredients that form a protective barrier against skin damage. They're thicker than facial creams (and may cause acne if used on your face), but are highly effective at protecting the skin on your arms, chest, shoulders, core, and legs from damage. They're also used for your hands and feet.
Obviously your face is the body part that requires the greatest amount of care, as it's more prone to aging, sun spots, wrinkles, smile and frown lines, etc.
There are three choices for treating your skin:
- Serums – Serums are the most lightweight option. They avoid any ingredients that are airtight (occlusive) and prevent the evaporation of moisture. There are fewer lubricators and thickeners in serums, and they tend to be water-based. For oily skin, serums are an excellent choice. They're usually loaded with antioxidant ingredients like Vitamin C and selenium.
- Lotions – Lotions combine liquids and oils, but with a higher percentage of liquid. They do contain some occlusive ingredients to protect the skin, but are still easily absorbed. Lotions are good for the average person (with normal oiliness or dryness).
- Creams – Creams are thicker with a higher concentration of oil to liquid. They may be soft like butter or a very thick cream, with highly moisturizing properties. They tend to last longer than lotions, thanks to their high concentration of oils. For those with very dry skin, creams are the best choice.
Now you know what you're looking for, it's time to hit the department store and stroll the creams, lotions, and serums aisle. Here are a few tips to help you make the right purchase:
- Cost isn't most important. What matters most is the quality of the product and the purpose. Not all expensive creams are better quality, but some contain a better list of ingredients. All that matters is that you find a cream or lotion that gets the job done; cost is secondary.
- Avoid fragrances. Most fragrances are chemical-based, meaning they can do more damage to your skin. Try to avoid any creams with strong fragrances. Only look for "all natural" fragrances.
- Ask about side effects. Almost all wrinkle and anti-aging creams come with some side effects (more skin oil, peeling, redness, irritation, etc.). Make sure you know what the potential side effects are before you buy.
- Know your skin type. Creams and lotions can be terrible for very oily skin, while serums may not offer sufficient protection for dry skin. Know your skin type and buy creams, lotions, or serums accordingly.
- More isn't always better. An anti-aging cream that combines multiple ingredients may not be any more effective than a cream that contains just one effective ingredient.
Building Your Anti-Aging Routine
Skincare isn't a "one and done". You can't just apply a bit of lotion to your face, hands, or body whenever you remember to do so. You have to incorporate anti-aging skincare into your daily grooming routine.
Wash Your Face – Consider using a face wash or just water, but make sure to wash your face daily. It will eliminate dirt, grime, and dead skin cells and open up those pores. Wash at least once in the morning and once at night for optimum results.
Apply Morning and Evening – You need a morning cream or lotion to protect your skin from the toxins, radiation, wind, and sunlight you'll be exposed to throughout the day. At night, use a lighter, cleansing serum to encourage better hydration and nourishment and to increase collagen production overnight. Avoid any thick creams or lotions at night—residue on your pillow could increase the risk of acne.
Apply After a Shower – When you step out of the shower, your skin is clean and hydrated. After toweling off, apply the lotion, serum, or cream that will nourish and protect your skin for the rest of the day or night.
Protect from the Sun – If you're going outdoors, make sure to include sunscreen. This will prevent the UV radiation damage and sunburn, which will make your skin more susceptible to damage by wind and environmental pollutants. Re-apply sunscreen every 30 to 45 minutes to keep your skin protected.
Treat Your Eyes – Most of us immediately think of treating our cheeks, forehead, and mouth, but don't forget to treat around your eyes as well. That's the part most likely to sag or wrinkle. Using a hydrating serum or lotion can reduce squint lines, lighten dark circles, or prevent sagging bags under your eyes.
Moisturize – In addition to your (pricier) anti-aging creams, buy yourself a (cheap) moisturizing lotion or cream. Apply it at least once a day to your forehead, around your eyes, and on your cheeks. This will help to hydrate the skin and reduce wrinkles.
Exfoliate Twice Weekly – It can be time-consuming to give your skin a good scrub, but regular exfoliation can make a huge difference in the health and freshness of your skin. Getting rid of the top layer of dead skin cells can improve your appearance and reduce wrinkles.